Sassy Sue wows the bark park visitors with her catching and retrieving.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine's Day Message about Rescue Dogs

Photoshop by Norma Boeckler

GJ - I am not sure whether Sassy is more German Shepherd or more heeler in personality. Both breeds are very smart. I missed Sacket so much, after she died of cancer, that we got Sassy. Sacky was  all-heeler and typically a shy, one-person dog. She slowly accepted Chris and was very loving toward her, but she did not welcome any stranger approaching her.

Heelers are super-smart, interactive, and independent. They are top dog, no matter what breed is around. Sassy yields to bigger dogs, even to her little Sheltie fur-sisters. However, she does rule the bed and barks when T-Girl gets an invitation to jump up.

German Shepherds look solemn but they are gentle, loving, and protective.

Here are some Sassy characteristics, which make her the star of the dog park:

She loves everybody and just wiggles with delight when people want to pet her.
She catches her ball in spectacular fashion, grabbing balls out of the air when a a man with a baseball glove would have trouble.
She saunters back with the ball when a crowd is gasping and applauding.
She can roll the ball to a stop at my feet or place it in my hands, depending.
If she likes someone, that person gets to throw her ball.
She asks to meet all the dogs in the next fenced-in area, so we often switch so she can make more friends.
She manages me so much that children look at me and say, "That is a bossy dog."

At home:
Sassy always has a front or back leg over Chris during jewelry time on the bed.
Sassy asks for hugs many times during the day.
One trick is to stop my writing by holding down my right arm.
She may knock the mouse away.
Switching to my left arm, away from her, does not work, because she reaches over for that one too.
When I laugh about her persistence, Sassy laughs and rolls over for a tummy rub.
Coming back from the dog park, Sassy listens to the latest stories about her.
She helps me with all my chores, supervising whatever I do.
As a heeler, she follows me and bumps me every few seconds, to make sure I know my place.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


By Norma Boeckler

Mammoth sunflowers are also called Russian and striped. These make great eating for humans after roasting in the oven, but birds and squirrels like them raw. They are one of the most nutritious products of the garden.

Most people use black oil sunflowers for bird food. The seeds can be planted, too, since they are least expensive in big bags.

I used to buy mammoth sunflower seeds in large packages from Harris Seeds. Larger packages are hard to resist.

This seed disk is not unusual. In New Ulm  I left the stalks up all winter so the birds could perch on them while winter foraging. They like to be just above the ground to look for food. The plant slowly rots into the soil. The decay feeds the soil creatures, especially earthworms, enriching and loosening the soil.

Flowers and Fibonacci Numbers
Long before the spirograph drawing toy, God created the same patterns in sunflower seed rows. The topic of Finonacci numbers is fascinating by itself.

This plant is only six feet tall but the seed disk is gigantic. The sunflower is a compound bloom, so each flower-let needs pollinating. The bees enjoy helping out, so there is quite a show to watch. The plant itself hosts plenty of visitors, so birds may land to feast on bugs chewing the leaves or hiding in the shade.

Sunflowers are often used as a temporary wall, an inexpensive way to provide privacy or shade. Unlike bamboo, sunflowers will not spread and occupy the entire lawn. Children like to hide in a fortress created with four walls of sunflowers.

Biggest sunflower disk contest:

Children like to see who can grow the biggest sunflower. Each plant needs plenty of space around it and as much sun as possible.

For extra growth, dig a hole first and fill it with compost, manure, or organic material. Put the best soil on top and plant the seed there. Once the plant begins, use dead grass, leaves, or newspaper to create mulch, which will hold in moisture, shade the root zone, and feed the soil creatures. Earthworms love newspaper roofs over their heads.

Sunflowers need plenty of water. They are as needy as corn and pumpkins. Their leaves will droop when they need more moisture. Water is the way they take up minerals from the soil, so that will give them more growth and bigger disks. Solar energy draws the moisture out while feeding the plant. Photosynthesis is a wonder we take for granted each day.